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Bid to charge Arlington father with threatening principal denied

An Arlington father who showed a gun permit and allegedly threatened an elementary school principal during an argument earlier this month will not be facing any charges.

Robert Goodwin, 40, was accused of threatening Michael Hanna, principal of Stratton Elementary School, during an argument there on June 4.

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But Police Chief Frederick Ryan said in a statement Friday that a clerk magistrate declined to bring a misdemeanor charge police had sought against Goodwin.

The magistrate’s ruling was issued after a hearing Friday in Cambridge District Court. “The court rendered its decision today, based on the testimony given, and we will respect that decision,” Ryan said.

Goodwin could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Mark G. Miliotis, confirmed news reports that Hanna testified during the public hearing that he did not feel threatened by Goodwin during the episode.

“He told the truth,” Miliotis said of Hanna, who could not be reached Friday evening.

Arlington police had applied for a criminal complaint charging Goodwin with a misdemeanor count of making verbal threats to commit an assault.

Police said that Goodwin argued with Hanna during a meeting at the school, where Goodwin’s son is enrolled, after concerns were raised about a drawing the boy had done. During the exchange, Goodwin showed Hanna his gun permit and mentioned having access to firearms, authorities have alleged.

Miliotis said Goodwin believed the drawing depicted an animated film character who fires Ping-Pong balls from a gun, and he told Hanna that his family believes in the Second Amendment and placed the firearm permit on the table.

“Which on reflection might not have been the best thing to do,” said Miliotis. “But Mr. Hanna took it in the spirit that it was given, a disagreement over whether you punish” a child for drawing a picture of a firearm.

He said Hanna and Goodwin shook hands after the hearing.

Police suspended Goodwin’s permit after the episode and took possession of his rifle. His license remains suspended, Ryan said. The chief has not decided if he will permanently revoke Goodwin’s license, but if he does, Goodwin will have the opportunity to appeal. The rifle has not been returned.

In addition, a no-trespass order that school officials issued to Ryan for Stratton Elementary remains active, Ryan said.

Ryan defended the decision to seek the criminal complaint, which he said the Police Department requested after consulting with Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office. Her office had no comment on the case.

“We exercised extreme caution to ensure the safety of the schoolchildren,” Chief Ryansaid.

In a letter to parents informing them of Friday’s ruling, Arlington School Superintendent Kathleen Bodie echoed that sentiment.

“Our concern from the beginning was that the students and staff at Stratton were and remain safe,” Bodie wrote. “And we are assured that this has been the case.”

Related:

Arlington parent’s gun seized after school meeting

Police seek to charge man in Arlington school confrontation

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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